was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution, only women, Roman senators and soldiers (except in cases of desertion)
were exempt. The usual instrument was a short whip (flagrum or flagellum) with several singe or braided leather thongs of variable lengths, in which small iron balls or sharp pieces of
sheep bones were tied at intervals (Fig. 2). Occasionally, staves also were used. For scourging, the man was stripped of his clothing, and his hands were tied to an upright post (Fig.
2). The back, buttocks, and legs were flogged either by two soldiers (lictors) or by one who alternated positions.
The severity of the scourging depended on the disposition of the lictors and was intended to weaken the victim to a state
just short of collapse or death. After the scourging, the soldiers often taunted their victim.
2. Scourging. Short whip (Flagrum) with lead balls and sheep bones tied into leather thongs. Center left;
naked victim tied to a flogging post. Deep stripe like lacerations were usually associated with considerable blood loss.
Center right, view from above, showing position of lictors. Right, inferomedial direction of wounds (in′fərōmē′dē·əl]
Etymology: L, inferus, lower, medius, middle pertaining to a location situated below and toward the center.
Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. © 2009, Elsevier..
Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim's back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather
thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and Subcutaneous tissues. Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory shock. The extent of blood loss may well have determined how long the victim would survive on the cross.
Praetorium, Jesus was severely whipped. (Although the severity of the scourging is not discussed in the
four gospel accounts, it is implied in one of the Epistles [1 Peter 2:24]. A detailed word study of the ancient Greek text for this verse indicates that the scourging
of Jesus was particularly harsh. It is not known whether the number of lashes was limited to 39, in accordance with
Jewish law. The Roman soldiers, amused that this weakened man had claimed to be a king, began to mock him by placing a robe
on his shoulders, a crown of thorns on his head, and a wooden staff as a scepter in his right hand. Next, they spat on Jesus
and struck him on the head with the wooden staff. Moreover, when the soldiers tore the robe from Jesus' back, they probably
reopened the scourging wounds. The severe scourging, with its intense pain and appreciable blood loss, most probably left
Jesus in a pre-shock state. Moreover, hematidrosis had rendered his skin particularly tender. The physical and mental abuse meted out by the Jews
and the Romans, as well as the lack of food, water, and sleep, also contributed to his generally weakened state. Therefore,
even before the actual crucifixion, Jesus' physical condition was at least serious and possibly critical.
3. Cross and Titulus. Left, victim carrying crossbar (patibulum) to site of upright post (stipes). Center, low
Tau Cross (Crux Commissa), commonly used by Romans at the time of Christ. Upper right, Rendition of Jesus' Titulus with
name and crime Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. Lower right, possible
methods for attaching tittles to Tau Cross (left) and Latin Cross (right).
customary for the condemned man to carry his own cross from the flogging post to the site of crucifixion outside the city
walls. He was usually naked, unless this was prohibited by local customs. Since the weight of the entire cross was probably
well over 300 lb. (136 kg), only the crossbar was carried (Fig 3). The patibulum, weighing 75 to 125 lb. (34 to 57 kg), was placed across the nape of the victim's neck and balanced along both shoulders.
Usually, the outstretched arms. then were tied to the crossbar. The processional to the site of crucifixion was led by a complete
Roman military guard, headed by a centurion. One of the soldiers carried a sign (titulus) on which the condemned man's name
and crime were displayed (Fig 3). Later, the titulus would be attached to the top of the cross. The Roman guard would not
leave the victim until they were sure of his death. Outside the city walls was permanently located the heavy upright wooden
stipes, on which the patibulum would be secured. In the case of the Tau cross, this was accomplished by means of a mortise
and tendon joint, with or without reinforcement by ropes. To prolong the crucifixion
process, a horizontal wooden block or plank, serving as a crude seat (sedile or sedulum), often was attached midway down the stipes. Only very rarely, and probably later than the time of Christ, was an additional
block (suppedaneum) employed for transfixion of the feet.